CATALONIA: Mass Revolt Against Spanish State Repression

Photo: Hundreds of protesters in support of Catalan independence gather in Barcelona during a general strike on October 18.

By Felipe Vera

For nearly two weeks, hundreds of thousands of Catalans have been revolting against the Spanish state, throwing rocks at the police, declaring a general strike, and occupying airports and roads.

On Monday October 14, the Spanish Supreme Court declared its ruling on a case against 12 politicians for their role in the 2017 referendum which pushed for Catalan secession. Three were sentenced to prison for over a year and a half, with nine others being sentenced for nine to thirteen years. The charges include sedition and misuse of public funds, and some have been banned from holding office for over a decade.

While none of these politicians are communists, and all of whom represent the interests of the Catalan bourgeoisie, the Spanish state has utilized reactionary maneuvers in an attempt to suppress any mass movement calling for secession. This was exemplified by the Spanish state’s response to the national referendum of October 2017 by deploying over 10,000 police officers, seizing ballots, and brutalizing the masses with batons.

Protesters throw furniture into a burning barricade

Over the past two weeks, the masses in Catalonia have occupied airports and initiated strikes in opposition to the verdict. Many have also set up barricades, lit trash cans on fire in the street, and have thrown rocks and other objects at the police. The Spanish state responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and an Israeli-designed water cannon in order to subdue the protests.

Spain itself benefits from its domination of Catalonia’s economy, which makes up 20 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product and 30 percent of its exports. Spain is a small imperialist nation, and its territory is a prison-house of nations, which include Catalonia, Basque Country, and Galicia.

The Catalan situation exposes the bankruptcy of bourgeois elections and reforms and demonstrates that without a Communist party capable of leading a People’s War to conquer power, spontaneous movements will always be trampled by state forces and led astray by sell-out leadership.

Catalan President Quim Torra exemplifies this treacherous road, calling for negotiations with the Spanish government and claiming that some protesters who engaged in vandalism and violence were infiltrators. In essence, this is an attempt to pacify the rebellion of the masses. Other Catalan politicians such as Roger Torrent and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau have attempted to influence trade unions to oppose the use of violence by the masses and insist on legal measures. The phony “socialist” Spanish President Pedro Sanchez has similarly ruled out any referendum and intends to move forward in accordance with the Spanish constitution.

Sham bourgeois elections, especially in the context of Catalonia’s self-determination, legitimize national oppression and quell the rebellion of the masses. Elections there have been used to mislead the masses into believing that real Catalan independence can be achieved peacefully and in collaboration with the Spanish state.

Legal independence, even if it were achieved in a way to make it more independent from Spain, would still leave Catalonia shackled to imperialism, chiefly US imperialism. In the face of these bourgeois illusions the masses of Catalonia have demonstrated that it is right to rebel.